Disney Shifts Focus To Streaming In Response To COVID-19 With Theatrical Releases No Longer A Priority

Pixar's Soul is coming to Disney+ on Christmas Day, and it seems that could be the norm moving forward as Disney looks to put a much greater focus on releasing titles via its streaming service...

The world has changed thanks to COVID-19, and regardless of when a vaccine is introduced, the movie industry is never going to be the same. That's emphasised by the fact that Disney has decided to shift its focus, no longer making films with the assumption they will receive a theatrical release; instead, they will go wherever the studio decides is the best fit for them. 

"What we want to do is leave it to a group of folks who can really see objectively," Disney CEO Bob Chapek in an October 12 told CNBC shortly after an announcement was made about a shift to streaming. "[We want to] make the optimal decision for the company, as opposed to somehow have it predetermined that a movie is destined for theaters or that a TV show is destined for ABC."

The company's stock increase by 5.4% after this news broke, and as Chapek explains, "[Consumers are] going to lead us in the way that they make their transactional decisions. Right now, they’re voting with their pocketbooks and they’re voting very heavily towards Disney+. What we want to do is make sure we’re going to go the way that consumers want us to go."

Investors have been pushing for Disney to focus heavily on streaming with its theatrical business essentially dead at the moment, and it makes sense when Disney+ already has 60.5 million subscribers. 

Chapek concluded by saying that Disney wants to continue to give consumers the option of watching movies in theaters, "But at the same time, there’s a lot of consumers that want to experience movies in the safety, comfort, and convenience of their own home."

Reading between the lines here, it seems like theaters are going to become something of an afterthought, with consumers given the chance to choose between watching the latest releases at home or on the big screen. This feels like a smart business decision and one that a lot of people want, especially with the dangers involved in visiting your local multiplex for the time being.

What's going to be interesting is finding out how Disney ensures its blockbusters are profitable on streaming.

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